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Socialist Case for Exit

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/898/22645

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 April 2016

EU: bosses pick 'safe' reactionary out voice

Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson, photo Paul Mattsson

Tory London Mayor Boris Johnson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Clive Heemskerk, National election agent, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

The European Union (EU) referendum campaign formally began on 13 April, when the Electoral Commission chose the 'official' voices of Remain and Leave. Its decision gives the chosen organisations guaranteed media coverage and substantial public resources.

There was one applicant on the Remain side, Britain Stronger in Europe. Tory peer Lord Rose, former boss of Marks & Spencer, leads the group - backed by David Cameron, the Labour Party, and the Liberal Democrats.

On the exit side, the reactionary Vote Leave campaign was chosen. This organisation includes all the Tory cabinet EU outers, the only Ukip MP Douglas Carswell, and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

A big majority of the British capitalist establishment supports a Remain vote. This was a case of the establishment choosing not just its own team, but the safest opposition as well.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which involves transport union RMT, the Socialist Party and other socialist groups, had also put in a bid to lead the Leave campaign. This was because the Electoral Commission had earlier refused to hear TUSC's arguments for why taxpayers' money should not go to reactionary Leave campaigners.

Not unexpectedly, TUSC was not selected. But our campaign has been vindicated.

The publicity generated by what the BBC called our "surprise bid" included multiple news stories and TV appearances. This shows how the process of choosing the official campaigns could get across the argument that an anti-austerity, anti-racist and socialist opposition to the EU is possible.

The Electoral Commission was forced into a tortuous defence. It said its legal duty to make sure the campaign chosen "adequately represented" working class Leave voters actually means "sufficiently represents, even if barely so".

What if not just TUSC, but other left-led unions in addition to the RMT had thrown their weight into a left exit campaign? Imagine the pressure it could have been under not to give lead campaign status to Tory outers and their Ukip allies.

Jeremy Corbyn has bowed to the pressure of Labour's right wing on the EU. He has abandoned his previous opposition to the EU bosses' club. This also helped to hand an important platform to Boris Johnson and friends.

But with our standing enhanced by the campaign it has conducted so far, TUSC will now organise its own 20-city tour of public meetings on 'The socialist case against the EU'. The battle to shape the character of the Leave campaign is not over.

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In The Socialist 20 April 2016:


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